• Sony And Microsoft’s Memorandum of Understanding May Have Broken Down

    Kenichiro Yoshida (Sony CEO) and Satya Nadella (Microsoft CEO) shake hands and pose for photo capture

    Back in 2019, Sony and Microsoft signed a memorandum of understanding to explore enhancing customer experiences in their direct-to-consumer entertainment platforms specifically gaming. Fast forward three years later and we now have one of the most interesting shifts in gaming that very few would have predicted would play out the way it is playing out right now.

    Partly due to the pandemic, and a shortage of components for both consoles, as well both Sony, and Microsoft going on buying sprees purchasing gaming studios, one can only wonder if behind the scenes some agreements failed to materialize, due to Microsoft and Sony not caving on their end. While there is not any proof that things broke down, we could look at some public information coming at play.

    Public Info #1: Microsoft Partners with Meta to bring Windows Apps, and Games to their Quest VR Headset
    One could only hypothetically guess that Microsoft approached Sony had looked into doing this with upcoming PlayStation VR2 headset. Perhaps discussions broke down because:

    A) Sony only wanted their VR headset to be focused ONLY on gaming and Microsoft didnt. This makes sense since the name is “PlayStation VR2”. A VR headset that is designed for VR games.

    B) Sony wanted a cut out of all revenue coming from apps purchased from Windows apps such as Office as well as the removal of the words “Xbox” or “Game Pass” from any games that were released onto the PlayStation VR2 headset. From a business standpoint this makes absolute sense and Sony is within their absolute right to do so.

    Public Info #2: Microsoft’s Purchase of Activision Blizzard
    It’s possible that Microsoft really wanted Game Pass to be made available on Sony’s platform since they are the leader in the game industry by a significant margin and Microsoft wanted to reach the audience behind Sony’s gate of paying customers. What if perhaps Sony agreed to allow Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass on their platform, only if the following stipulations were met:

    1. Sony gets a 30 percent cut of all revenue from Game Pass that come from PlayStation as well as a portion of all micro based transactions if they are purchased through the PlayStation console
    2. Microsoft agrees to make up the difference in loss of revenue on PlayStation Plus due to gamers playing 3rd party games that are available via Game Pass that must be fully purchased on PlayStation Network, or are not yet available on PlayStation Plus
    3. Microsoft gets out of the hardware market and becomes a game streaming company only. (Just kidding)

    What if Microsoft didn’t want to agree to these stipulations? With the acquisition of Activision Blizzard, it’s obvious that they could have agreed to those but instead chose not to. If this was indeed a valid discussion, and stipulation, then you, as a reader should infer that Microsoft isn’t really the innocent company that they are making themselves out to be by saying Sony is gatekeeping because clearly, they aren’t. It would have also been cheaper for Microsoft to go this route while also allowing Microsoft to profit from Game Pass thus making both companies the winners here.

    Public Info #3: No mention of Azure powering Sony’s PlayStation Plus service.
    Cloud companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Oracle usually issue press releases when a multibillion company signs on and agrees to use their cloud platform as it gives that company good press. There has not been any PR issued that Sony is now officially using Microsoft’s Azure cloud service by either company. I believe Sony was offering to use Microsoft’s Cloud service exclusively only if they agreed to some or more of the stipulations stated above. Perhaps Microsoft refused all of them and wouldnt meet in the middle, thus Sony walked, and decided it would be best to use AWS or Google Cloud or Oracle Cloud or a combination of all three. In this case, Sony was smart to make sure they did not get played.

    It’s possible that the hypothetical disagreements mentioned above may have caused memorandum of understanding to break down entirely due to a failure to come to agreements mentioned above. If you recall, Sony and Honda entered into a memorandum of understanding to produce self-driving vehicles. As time passed, both companies then released another updated saying they have both signed on to begin development of the self-driving vehicles. A new company jointly funded by them materialized which is now “Sony Honda Mobility Inc”.

    That type of outcome never came out of the memorandum of understanding between Sony and Microsoft.

    Do let me know your thoughts on this take and please also remember that this is hypothetical, and opinion based.

  • Sony’s PlayStation Division Takes A Play Out of its Movie Division

    PlayStation studios head Hermen Hulst has recently stated in an interview with Axios that some PlayStation exclusive games will be made available on PC at least within one year post launch on the PlayStation 5. With this strategy, it follows the traditional route that Sony Pictures head guy in charge Tony Vinciquerra stated about continuing to release movies directly in theaters before heading to other platforms.

    Why it makes sense

    I spoke about this type of strategy directly with my friends the other day so I’m glad to hear it finally confirmed by the head guy in charge. This makes absolute perfect sense because it extends the life of the videogame just like movie studios extend the life of their movie releases. The following list shows this in action.

    • Gamers who play the latest release at launch day —-> Movie Theatre goers
    • Gamers who wait to play the game at a discount —–> Blu Ray movie purchasers
    • Gamers who game, but have other priorities such as completing a different game and dealing with life —– Watch on television

    As the game works its way through its cycle, it hits a new group of gamers with each cycle. I picked up on queues when they first released God of War and Spiderman on PC.

    Sony deserves praise for ensuring that all gamers get a chance to play their blockbusters whenever it suits them best. By keeping the game front and center based on the gamer they are targeting, it helps extend the life of the game. Some other services just place the game on the front page of new releases for about a month or two and then it fades away into the background similar to that movie on Netflix that you wanted to see but forgot to add to your watchlist or, you did add it to your watchlist only for it to be removed because it’s no longer on the service.

    This makes absolute since that PlayStation would want to do this to ensure they reach the most gamers. I personally support this strategy.

    I am currently one of the gamers in the 3rd bullet in the list. It is taking me forever to complete Ratchet and Clank Rift apart. While it’s taking me forever to complete it, the mere fact that knowing I will have another blockbuster to play after I complete Ratchet and Clank is good news. This applies to all gamers in this list.

  • PlayStations Remote Play Functionality Has Come A Long Way

    The Remote Play functionality that PlayStation offers which allows PlayStation gamers to play their games remotely has been improved upon significantly. I’ve become more interested in being able to access and play the games I’ve purchased on my PlayStation wherever I happen to be since I’m no longer as static as I used to be. I am now constantly on the go whether it’s traveling out of state somewhere with a friend, visiting family out of state, sitting in the breakroom on lunch on the rare times I have to go into the office, or just going to my parents’ house to chill out.

    I’ve known PlayStation has offered Remote Play functionality for some time, but I’ve always found it to not be of much use because you needed to always be connected to a Wi-Fi connection and most, if not all, people know there are no GOOD or decent free public Wi-Fi hotspots and I’ve never had a reason to utilize it at my house since that is where my PlayStation actually lives.

    However, now that 4G LTE and 5G are standard in the US and with Sony pushing out an update which allows you to use remote play over mobile data, I decided to revisit this feature and it is definitely worth taking a look for yourself.

    The video I made below was done inside my car and shows me using the Remote Play functionality in a 5G area downtown in an online battle of Tekken 7. I will reiterate that I played an online match and not an offline match. The input lag was very minimal if nonexistent. The lag was not any more noticeable than if i was playing an online match at my house via hardwire. I also won the match.

    My PlayStation 5 is hardwired, and I have gigabit speed, so I am sure this played a significant part in a stable connection in cojunction with a stable 5G mobile data connection.

    With these promising results, it is now safe to say that I can actually get Day One releases available on my phone or tablet and have continuous access to them wherever I happen to be at the moment under the PlayStation ecosystem. In addition, I will also own the games and will not have to worry about them vanishing off the service anytime soon. Tekken 7, although a PlayStation 4 game, was the best game to sample due to its combo execution and constant movement for adapting to your opponent. I was testing the input/response lag and it was pretty much nonexistent. If you notice in the video none of my combos dropped.

    I think this is very good. You can now purchase your games through the PlayStation App and then immediately start playing them via your mobile device. This means anywhere you are is your PlayStation. Ok, that was cheesy, but it was still good.

  • PlayStation Remote Play under-utilized and not Talked About

    There is a lot of talk about cloud gaming in today’s gaming world through Sony’s PlayStation Plus Premium, Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass, or NVidias GeForce Now. All of these services promise the ability to play your games remotely wherever you are via your mobile phone, smartphone, or tablet. I’ve noticed on various social media sites, and PlayStation centric pages that many fans that own a PlayStation 5 or PlayStation 4 and are active on social media are either unaware, or neglect to mention that they can already play their games on their devices.

    While Microsoft and Xbox gamers are continuously pushing and making Game Pass front and center and also hammering the ” day one release + play anywhere” message, PlayStation gamers are not doing the same despite having the same benefits although with some minor differences in the setup.

    If you own a mobile phone or tablet that runs Android, Apple, or Windows, then you can play any PlayStation day one release anywhere by installing the Remote Play App. Once you’ve linked your device to your PlayStation, you can then access the game remotely via Wi-Fi or via mobile data through your wireless provider. It is here where PlayStation gamers seem to neglect pushing this narrative.

    A quick overview of the setup process looks like this:

    1. Install the Remote Play App.
    2. Open the Remote Play App and register your PlayStation.
    3. Connect to your PlayStation.
    4. Play all the games you’ve downloaded to your console via streaming. You can also play all.

    In addition to having all the games available in your pocket, you also have access to all of the games on PlayStation Plus Premium in your pocket.

    In order to stream any game in the PlayStation Plus Premium catalog to your mobile device requires you to first download the game that you are interested in onto your console. Once the game is downloaded, you can then stream the game to your mobile device.

    I am assuming that the reason you cannot directly stream a game from PlayStation Plus directly to your phone through the Remote Play app is because it would result in a laggy experience. This makes sense because the PlayStation device would need to stream the game from Sony’s servers and then stream that stream directly to your phone. So, it makes better sense to download the game and then stream it.